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MARKET: RM Sotheby's Cliveden Sale

1955 Jaguar XK 140 SE Coupé by Michelotti | Source: RM Sotheby's
1955 Jaguar XK 140 SE Coupé by Michelotti | Source: RM Sotheby's

What's going on here?

RM held their first sale at the stunning new venue of Cliveden House in the UK on Wednesday - the results produced some stunners as well.

Tell me more

Let's start top level.

61 vehicles were offered. 41 sold, delivering a sell-through rate (STR) of 67%.

If you strip out the 22 no reserve vehicles, and analyse the sell-through rate solely on those cars that did have a reserve, just under half of the cars with a reserve actually sold.

Despite a STR that was perhaps below expectations, £8,713,013 of vehicles sold during the afternoon, not including a handful of deals that got arranged afterwards.

What did well

In short, the buyers did well.

There was no doubt the event was a buyers market with plenty of cars finding homes at great value, we'll come onto that though.

3 world records were set:

  • 1908 Stanley Model K sold for £80,500 (previous record for a Model K was £55,570)

  • 1969 Innoncenti Mini Cooper 1000 sold for £25,300 (previous record for an Innoncenti Mini Cooper was £22,131)

  • 1990 Mini Margrave by Wood & Pickett sold for £28,750 (previous record Margrave Wood & Pickett was £25,500)

RM pulled a blinder with the Stanley Model K as if by magic as Will Smith finished reading his preamble on the car the Model K trundled past the side of the tent, steam billowing and making a lovely racket.

Two Ferrari 512 TRs were offered, the 3,932 mile car reached a high bid of £190,000 (£218,500 if premium was added) before not selling (albeit it was on a temporary import bond so duties were to be paid).

The other 512 TR with 29,192 miles on the clock (estimate £140,000 - £180,000) sold for £224,250 - a strong result placing it in the top 30% of sales we've seen for them in recent years.

A Lamborghini LM002 was offered (estimate £225,000 - £275,000) sold for £342,500 - less than £7,000 short of a new world record. Crazy to think these were £50k back in 2010.

An AC Cobra 427 Continuation car, which had sold in 2021 for £189,044, sold for £232,813. A tidy little profit for someone.

In contrast to a tidy profit, the 1955 Jaguar XK140 SE Coupé by Michelotti which had sold in 2023 for £366,030, only managed a high bid of £150,000. The XK market has faced its fair share of challenges in the past 5 years but a 50% fall in 16 months is unwarranted.

Final car worthy of mention was a delightful 1965 Sunbeam Tiger which had garnered huge appreciation pre-auction. Owned by the same family since the day it was purchased in 1965 it went for £66,700, towards the top of its estimate and the highest price ever seen in the UK for a Mk 1 Sunbeam Tiger.

What didn't go so well

The beginning and end. Let me explain.

As is often the case, bargains can be had for those prepared to stick it out.

The third lot of the afternoon was a Ferrari 400i, out of long-term storage, with import duties to be paid and in need of "recommissioning" but by no means was it a basket case.

Estimate £30,000 - £50,000. Sold at £11,500 for a V12 Ferrari.

It was 2011 the last time we saw a 400i that cheap!

At the other end of the auction the last 10 lots of the day, as the room thinned out, presented some incredible value for those willing to take on a little project and deal with admin of getting the car registered in the UK (or exporting it). Some of the deals to be had:

  • 1959 Borgward Isabella Coupe (Estimate £20,000 - £30,000) Sold: £5,750

  • 1959 Jaguar XK150 3.4 S Coupe (Estimate £30,000 - £50,000) Sold: £17,250

  • 1961 Bentley S2 (Estimate £20,000 - £30,000) Sold: £9,200

  • 1966 Bristol 409 (Estimate £25,000 - £35,000) Sold: £11,500

  • 1974 Ferrari 365 GT4 2+2 (Estimate £60,000 - £70,000) Sold: £36,800

4 Final Things

1 - The headline lot of the day was the 250 SWB, estimated at £5,000,000 - £6,000,000.

This was a fascinating sale to watch. As our previous blog post here explained, the 250 market is under some pressure with prices down 16% from only 4 years ago.

Artcurial sold a SWB last month for just north of £4,700,000. That car had its excuses given it was involved in a tragic accident not too long ago.

This SWB also had its excuses having been re-bodied multiple times through its life including as a 250 GTO at one point before being returned to its iconic SWB shape in 2009.

So, how did it fair? It was close but no cigar, a high bid of £4,500,000 and no further. Had it sold for that price inc. premium it would've been £5,067,500. Slightly below where we've seen SWBs' in recent years and it would've been the second lowest SWB price since 2010.

2 - Vehicles from the 80s did well. It was one of the few decades where all vehicles exceeded their estimate mid-point. In contrast, real weakness from the 30s and 50s stuff with vehicles from both decades delivering c. 30% below their estimate mid-point on average.

3 - RM have long been widely regarded as the Kings of the live auction game. It'd be fair to say Cliveden had the setting, a great variety of cars, but for whatever reason the results didn't fire. Only 4 of the 61 lots exceeded their top estimate. Even Messi can have a bad day in the office now and then.

4 - In the meantime, it's a prime opportunity for those ready. So register to bid and pay attention because next time you could walk away with a V12 Ferrari for sub-£12k.

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